DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) — City Council President Susan Dabaja called an emergency meeting to address severe flooding issues. Absent from that meeting, the mayor who’s declining to tell us what’s been spent on infrastructure in the last five years.
“I called the mayor’s office Monday morning. Guess what, it directed me to voicemail,” said Mike Hacham, a homeowner whose home flooded after recent severe storms.
Calling out Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reily, Hacham says a lack of accountability and proper infrastructure work has led to countless flooded basements and extensive damage to property.
“Was this preventable? Of course. We threw millions of dollars at failed CSO projects. Our neighborhoods look like war zones. Our investments are gone," Hacham said.
The images of flooding and filthy furniture soaked with sewer water aren't exactly what citizens expected when they say they agreed to pay higher taxes. While the mayor is declining comment after we called, his spokesperson released a statement admitting their system is only designed to handle three inches of rain within 24 hours.
A recent project to separate sewer and stormwater was done, but they've estimated the cost of an ideal fix to be $500 million.
“I think there’s a big question as to why and how this happened,” said Rep. Abdullah Hamoud.
State Rep. Hamoud, who's also a candidate for mayor, spent the last four days with a coalition of volunteers helping clean out hundreds of homes. He's among those critical of the cities water woes dating back years.
“We keep hearing this happens once in several hundred years. The reality is in the last few years, Dearborn has flooded several times,” State Rep. Hamoud said.
Police Chief Ron Haddad agreeing to speak with us when the mayor wouldn't.
“We’re doing everything we can to mitigate the last rainfall and flood,” Haddad said.
At the city council's emergency public meeting, no sign of the mayor. Council President Susan Dabaja also a candidate for mayor talking with us via Zoom about some steps being taken to help and improve communication.
“The city has called for the national guard and we’re releasing info in real-time on social media,” Dabaja said.
The mayor's office is again requesting more than a million in funding to manage after the fact. Three years ago, when the mayor did attend a public meeting, he simply offered the same advice being given today.
Clean-up efforts will be ongoing for weeks and months to come. Still no word on when the mayor will accept our interview request.